The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask (Nintendo 64) Second Opinion Review

By Ofisil 06.03.2016 13

Review for The Legend of Zelda: Majora

Unless living under Spectacle Rock, it's hard not to be aware of the wonderful The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; arguably one of the greatest video games ever, and, for many, the absolute best of the good ol' N64. It's no surprise that The Legend of Zelda franchise chose to appear once more on that particular platform, and it's no surprise that the end result garnered universal acclaim from the community. The name was The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, and it was… strange, dark, and somewhat lacking of the things that made the series great, as will be explained in this review.

Link, for the first time in his adventurous life, does nothing at all - and why should he? The townspeople are working on the preparations for the annual Carnival of Time, which will take place in front of a big clock tower. The music is cheerful, and no one seems to be in a bad or anxious mood… then the camera begins to ascend, showing a weird masked creature on top of the tower, who gazes upon a scene that is as frightening as it is ridiculous: the moon is a few hundred feet above the town, and it has a very threatening look on its, almost skeletal, face. This heavenly body, however, isn't there just for show; this will actually be Link's rival for the following three days, at the end of which it will fall down and destroy everything.

The intro is, undoubtedly, a taste of things to come, with The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask being the darkest of all Zelda games so far. In fact, many of the small sub-plots that this young hero will get involved in throughout this quest will actually have a pretty gloomy mood, which, coupled with the imminent catastrophe, creates a pretty foreboding atmosphere. Luckily, being the courageous hero that he is, Link grabs his sword, and sets of to clear the four available dungeons that surround Clock Town, the hub-area of Termina (nice name giving *irony*), and stop the moon from descending… If he can make it on time, that is, because the clock is constantly ticking.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Nintendo 64

Wait, though. A time limit in a series where half the pleasure stems from being given infinite time to explore? The answer is pretty simple: time never stops, but, through the wondrous Ocarina of Time, it can be bent, which means that whenever Link chooses to, he can just play a few notes, and BOOM! all back to day one. This concept is certainly quite original, but is it enjoyable gameplay-wise? Initially, everything screams Ocarina of Time; the controls, the look, the basic goal of finding items, doing side-quests, playing mini-games, and completing dungeons - it's all here… but, things aren't as wonderful as they seem to be.

For starters, the whole structure of this adventure leans, strangely enough, heavily towards the side-quests, when in previous titles these only acted as brief intervals between the various sections of the core game. Of course, Clock Town is just that - a town; therefore its inhabitants are just a bunch of simple folk with simple needs. Now, while a small area, there are tons of things to do and, depending on the current day and hour, the various characters do different things in frequently different places.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Nintendo 64

What about these quests, though; are they fun? To be honest, despite being just a bunch of unimpressive errands, they can be entertaining at times - especially when the reward involves being shoved in the ample bosom of a grateful, beautiful young lady. Unfortunately, the time-rewinding mechanic ruins everything. Why? Mainly because a lot of trial and error is needed to finish these quests, since many require doing certain things at very specific moments, with fails being equal to going back to zero, and being forced to watch the same mini-plots develop again, and again, and again.

If this part is so annoying, though, why not focus on the main thing? First of all, most items can only be acquired by doing these tedious chores. Second, Majora's Mask is surprisingly tougher than most Zelda titles, and since the few dungeons available provide only a few heart pieces, side-quests become a must. Finally, reaching all four dungeons means needing to meet certain prerequisites first, with a single misstep translating to doing things all over again - and never forget that the clock never stops doing its thing.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Nintendo 64

Note that since this revolves around the titular Majora's Mask, there's a great focus in finding such items, which turn out to be the most unique pieces of equipment in here. These can make Link faster or invisible, or even transform him into a weak, but agile, Deku Scrub, a hulking Goron, or a swimming Zora. Sadly, this mechanic wasn't exploited to its full potential, with most masks being simple quest items, which means that they become obsolete the moment they serve their purpose.

Generally, there's a feeling of inconsistency here. Despite its size, Termina is a world bustling with life, yet it's easy to get sick of experiencing it more than once. The graphic quality is awesome, with cleaner textures, better lighting, and a slightly smoother frame rate, but too many things have been recycled from Ocarina of Time. The music is great, but not up to par to the grandiose soundtracks of the franchise. Finally, the dungeons are, once again, fantastic, but the actual steps that are needed to reach them can become extremely irritating, especially when having to repeat certain portions of the game all over again.

Screenshot for The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask on Nintendo 64

Cubed3 Rating

6/10
Rated 6 out of 10

Good

The one-year development deadline is surely to blame for the many flaws of The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, yet it's biggest problem is how it doesn't feel as a "true" Zelda game should. That isn't to say that trying something different is a bad thing; it's just that the results of this experiment will disappoint a large portion of the fan base. Many will love the different gameplay style, which focuses more on doing side-quests, while constantly trying to outrun the relentless ticking of the clock, whereas others will find the whole rewinding time business to be extremely annoying. Is this bad? Not really, but this is a Legend of Zelda game, so anything less than 'fantastic' doesn't belong here.

Developer

Nintendo

Publisher

Nintendo

Genre

Adventure

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (102 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

Comments

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A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

Lol! No disappointment here. I've tried numerous times to get into this game and fail every time. I do appreciate they tried something different, but at the same time, it's just not for me and I've never really understood why so many people love it so much. There's some fantastic ideas in it, but as an overall experience, I don't find it enjoyable to play through.

This is rubbish. Majora is a game yet to be bettered. The central conceit: the 3 day save file system is a work of absolute genius.

I was floored even then at about 13 and yet none else seemed impressed.

To this day the trick has barely been repeated. Dark souls is about the only homage that springs to mind.

Few developers dare play with the save file system. Majora was daring and playful and blazed a trail few, to this day, seem able to recognise.

So risky... Generally creatively risky artwork is recognised as such but not in videogames it seems.

Seems like people just wanted to play oot again.

If a Zelda game can be criminally overlooked then this is the one. It plays an astonishing game of standing up to oot despite all its ideas and risk-taking.

It's almost better. The worst part is that all these years later people still don't see what it's doing.

I would say: mark my words a game like that is the future, the citizen Kane of games, but I'd be wrong. Dark souls is that game and still no one realises.

Both games are so fucking clever, thematically and mechanically, but no one makes the link or recognises what majora really is (nor can anyone even explain dark souls in any depth for that matter)

I think people still compare games to films. That's why peoples critical analysis of videogames is so sorely lacking in tools and language.

I just can't get my head around this kind of an interpretation of majora. You write for a games website and I do feel this is a matter of right and wrong.

This is all wrong. You're wrong.

2509 2156 5486

KingDom said:

This is all wrong. You're wrong.

Bottom line: I have a different opinion.

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

I sort of respect that.

BUT ITS WRONG.

I do totally understand how the 3 day system and the side quests could be frustrating for some players and I'll accept that it was partly my state of mind that allowed me to take to that game on that day.

I could have equally found it frustrating and I think at first I did.

Majora will trip the average zelda player up a few times and chances are this will be frustrating.

We are two different people and tbh, I didn't have any other games to play that summer I crashed through majora.

But it's like dying in dark souls (sry to come back to that game I just think it's a clear descendant of majora).

Or in monster hunter when you realise that you don't level up but it's still an RPG.

Narratives are subjective and are received subjectively but games have a technical aspect that involves objectivity.

Now if a game was broken, technically speaking, we would be able to agree that actually individual taste had no bearing. We would agree that, on the technical level, the game was rubbish.

I'm not saying that here. I think we'll agree that the game is technically polished and our reaction to it is subjective.

And I agree. We are individuals with individual tastes.

I just feel that reviews too often focus on the narrative like it's a movie and ignore the mechanical structures underneath. I feel the mechanics were daring.

I think Nintendo knew, as well as I, how risky and potentially frustrating the design was and went ahead anyway.

You've got 2 choices in dark souls when you die: allow frustration to get the better of you or recognise the game you are really playing and play that game.

I totally respect your right to a subjective reaction it just seems with people who couldn't get over that initial frustration that they wanted oot and the 3 day mechanism got in the way.

I don't see it that way and that is subjective but I'm not reacting to you. Even at the time majora suffered at the hands of critics and the public.

I've always thought it was unfair: that it was Nintendo's creativity and daring that was penalised. Not just by the public but by critics too.

I just can't agree and I've always felt so strongly. If ever there was a game that bleeds Nintendo's heart and soul it's majora.

You say the side quests are too hard for too little reward. I wonder where your heart is. Its precisely how hard it is to reunite kafei and anju and the bitter pointlessness of doing so which is so touching.

Its also the recognition that the reunion would, in reality, be impossible. After the great lengths you go to your reward is simply: pathos. It's so full of pathos, so desperately, bitterly, warmly human, and sad. It's pure genius. It's the peak of Nintendo's work.

Or the redead house and the horror you feel in the pit of your stomach when you realise what you have done, prying, sticking your nose in this little girl's closet. You would need a heart of stone to not be touched. Are you a redead?

If this is how interactive narrative storytelling will be appraised I wonder if I will ever play a game as good.

And I'm sorry but as a game critic that is totally on you.

2509 2156 5486

KingDom said:
I sort of respect that.

BUT ITS WRONG.


You - sort of - respect that... but you don't understand that.
You defend the narrative, the mechanics, the look, the various innovations thrown in MM, and you do it passionately. You know why? Simple: the game has touched you in some special way, therefore, no review, no matter how "objective" it is can change your mind.

Videogames, like music, like movies, like a photograph, like the face of a child or the body of a woman, provide different emotions to different people. Why? because we are DIFFERENT people.

Majora's Mask is for you the Citizen Cane of videogames... for me its a failed experiment
The same way for people UNLIKE me DOOM is just a boring, prehistoric shooter.

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis

I love the game, but it's a respectable review from an understandable point of view.

Clearly I do understand subjective/objective.

But fuck that. Doom? Boring? Prehistoric?

You, sir, are wrong.

Doom is terrifying and astonishing. It is the citizen Kane of videogames!

There must be something wrong with you. You must be... Different.

Smilie

2509 2156 5486

He said people unlike him, meaning he loves Doom, but acknowledges other people have different opinions of it. Correct me if I'm wrong.

Kingdom (guest) 07.03.2016#10

No need to correct you. That was my impression too. That's why I made the joke.

MM is a very interesting one for me. Whilst I really did love it for being so different from the usual Zelda titles, it felt somewhat rushed and too short overall. Even with the whole replay factor mixed in, there was something...missing... For years after, I wished Nintendo would take the style and theme, and then massively expand upon it. It's certainly a game that left me feeling conflicted, and still does, to a degree.

Adam Riley [ Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited ]
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

For me - I would have given the game the same score or slightly higher when I played it years ago (probably around 13/14 if I recall) - having played it again a year or so ago at 27, I would give it a definite 8 or 9 - it can be a pain in the arse to be constricted by time, but the character development, stories and that background pressure makes it quite an interesting experience - really appreciated more now than I did back then 

Cubed3 Admin/Founder & Designer

jb said:
it can be a pain in the arse to be constricted by time, but the character development, stories and that background pressure makes it quite an interesting experience - really appreciated more now than I did back then 

My main gripe isn't the time restriction - in fact I love sth like that in games (Fallout "1"), I just think that it wasn't used correctly gameplay-wise... and it is a shame because the various mini-plots can be very good at times.

A lot of quotes in the Internet are attributed to the wrong person
                                -Georgios Karaiskakis
Guest 10.03.2016#14

My view is as of right now majoras mask is one of the top three zelda games ever made. I'd personally give it an 8. Its quirky and interesting. Sure it has its flaws but its aged a lot better than say twilight princess or ocarina. Mainly due to having a lot of originality. If you asked me would i play majoras mask again i'd say maybe. If you asked me would i like to play ocarina or twilight again. i'd ask can't i play skyward sword instead as it does the same thing infinitely better.

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